AS one of the ‘Fab Four’ who helped Hull City from the basement division to the Premier League, Boaz Myhill will always be guaranteed a warm reception at the KC Stadium.
Last night, however, the KC Stadium faithful had particular reason to be thankful to the Welsh international after his blunder allowed the Tigers to claim what, come the season’s end, could prove to be a vital three points.
In allowing a scuffed shot from Aaron Mclean to squirm from his grasp and into the net. Myhill also allowed City to reclaim their place in the top six.
Such a fate was, of course, cruel on Myhill, who along with Ian Ashbee, Ryan France and Andy Dawson played in all four divisions during City’s amazing rise to the top-flight.
Not, however, that this was enough to prevent the home fans from singing ‘he’s Boaz Myhill, he’s one of our own’ following the 70th-minute slip that handed Nick Barmby’s side the points.
Mclean’s strike completed a fine comeback from the Tigers, who had trailed at the break courtesy of Chris Wood marking his 20th birthday with a well-taken goal.
Hull were clearly not too downhearted, however, with it taking just 73 seconds of the second half for parity to be restored.
A slide-rule pass from Liam Rosenior created the opening, the sheer quality allowing Cameron Stewart to scamper clear down the right before whipping in a cross that the Blues defence could only half-clear.
Thankfully for Hull, the ball landed at the feet of just the right man and Robert Koren did the rest with a stunning first-time finish that gave Myhill no chance.
Buoyed by having netted for the third time in as many games, the Slovenian started to have more and more of a say in proceedings.
First, his perfectly-flighted corner picked out Jack Hobbs only for the Tigers captain to head over.
Then, just after the hour, Koren attempted an ambitious shot following more impressive link-up play down the right by Rosenior and Stewart.
Sadly for Hull, Koren’s radar was somewhat off target this time and the ball flew high and wide. It was a similar tale on 66 minutes when the Tigers midfielder again found himself in a promising position only to screw his shot wide from 20 yards.
Koren, though, would not be defeated and it was his incisive pass to Mclean that helped create the goal. With left-back David Murphy taken out of the game by the quality of the delivery, Mclean raced forward to hit a shot that a goalkeeper of Myhill’s undoubted quality would save 99 times out of 100.
Unfortunately, last night turned out to be the exception to the rule as he allowed Mclean’s shot to slip from his grasp and over the line.
Birmingham’s response was impressive, Chris Burke bringing a stunning save from Peter Gulacsi after the wideman had been picked out by Wade Elliott.
Another impressive delivery from the former Burnley winger created the Blues’ next opening. Again, however, Elliott’s team-mates were unable to capitalise, Guirane N’Daw this time being the guilty man as he headed wide.
It proved to be Birmingham’s last chance, Hull seeing out the game in impressive fashion to return to the top six.
Such a scenario had seemed unlikely at the halfway stage after the visitors’ tactics of trying to stifle their hosts while hitting them on the break had worked to a tee.
Birmingham’s intentions had been evident from the very first minute with Marlon King ploughing a lone furrow up front and the rest of his team-mates lining up to form a formidable defensive barrier.
The plan was clearly to allow Hull space and time to pass the ball around in their own territory but then press the home players whenever they crossed the halfway line.
Such caution has been a feature of the Blues’ games this season, Chris Hughton’s clear priority being to make his side hard to beat – a ploy that proved hugely successful two years ago when he led Newcastle United back to the Premier League.
Against the Tigers, the safety-first approach worked admirably in the first half as the home side were restricted to long-range efforts despite dominating possession.
Of these, Corry Evans fired just wide from 20 yards and Koren warmed the hands of Myhill.
Otherwise, though, there was little to unduly concern Hughton, who will also have been delighted to see his side pose a threat on the break.
First, an incisive pass from Chris Burke allowed Elliott to race clear of the Tigers defence before bringing a fine block from Gulcacsi.
The ease with which a sweet passing move unlocked Hull should have served as a warning.
Instead, on 34 minutes, another neat move saw Marlon King cushion the ball into the path of Chris Wood, who drilled a low shot beyond Gulacsi into the corner of the net.
At that stage, a Hull comeback looked a distant dream against the well-organised visitors but instead Barmby’s men ensured the vast majority of the 17,438 crowd went home happy come the final whistle.
Hull City: Gulacsi; Rosenior, Chester, Hobbs, Dawson; Evans, McKenna; Mclean, Koren, Stewart (Dudgeon 85); Fryatt. Unused substitutes: Basso, Cairney, McShane, Dudgeon, Adebola.
Birmingham City: Myhill; Carr, Caldwell, Ibanez, Murphy; Burke (Rooney 89), Spector, Fahey (N’Daw 77), Wood (Zigic 77), Elliott; King. Unused substitutes: Doyle, Gomis.
Referee: M Naylor (South Yorkshire).